Huxley is now 2 months old and I cannot believe how quickly the last two months have gone. It's as though I blinked and it was 2 months. While the last two months have been nothing short of amazing, it's also been challenging, frustrating, upsetting, heartbreaking (I mean, his cry is enough to break my heart into a million pieces) and quite frankly - anxiety provoking.
The first 6 weeks were one of the most challenging for me. It took me about 5 months to fully recover and feel like myself again. At 5 weeks I felt like I could start going to the gym again, but because I had a c-section, I knew it was best to wait until my OB gave me the clear just in case. During those 6 weeks, visitors were coming in and out, Huxley was essentially just pooping, crying and sleeping and really I felt like I was doing the same (LOL) plus pumping milk. But I really didn't mind because there was so much going on and so much learning to do with Huxley that the thought of doing anything else didn't even cross my mind. The five week point was when I was ready to start having a life outside my condo again. Less people were coming over, and I was pretty much on my own - which to some extent I actually appreciated. I no longer had to work my day around visitors popping in. While on my own, I didn't really feel comfortable venturing further than my neighbourhood without Bryon. But when my 6-week post op appointment rolled around, I figured out how to use my stroller/car seat combo and stroll with Huxley to the subway to St. Mike's hospital. It was such a successful outing, that I decided to stop by SickKids to see Bryon at work. That little taste of freedom had me hooked and I started to realize how stir crazy I was going cooped up inside. But at the same time, going outside gave me anxiety. I worried about EVERYTHING. To me, everyone was a carrier of germs that would get Huxley sick. I was quick to cover him up with a blanket or his car seat cover whenever anyone got too close. Oh yea - I was that crazy mom. I tried to get us out of the condo everyday. I stretched out errands over an entire week - new foundation from Sephora, new sleepers for Huxley, toilet paper hahaha, I tried to find a reason to get out everyday, and soon enough going outside didn't feel like walking into the apocalypse caused by a fast-spreading disease. I found myself craving more than just going out for errands. I also needed more human connection. I started visiting Bryon at work twice a week, and then I found a pilates and baby class on Classpass that I started going to, which was fun for both Huxley and I. Going out and seeing people made me feel more sane. It was at that 6 week point that I absolutely LOVED being at home with Huxley, but I also missed the structure and routine of getting up, getting ready and going to work. But any new mom will tell you that a set routine with a newborn is nearly impossible because anything can happen. Whether you are sleep training or just going with the flow.
Although the anxiety of going out faded, other anxieties started to pop up. Waking up each day and not having Bryon or my mom around meant worrying about getting stuff done. And I think a lot of this has to do with missing work and not having structure in my life. When my mom would visit, she would just do the dishes, or laundry or make dinner without me asking her - which was great because I could enjoy my time with Huxley and not worry about pumping as much. I felt less mom-guilt because I could actually focus on Huxley and not worry about doing the laundry, washing the dishes, making lunch etc. while I was holding him or comforting him. But when my mom and Bryon weren't around the anxiety would set in: If Huxley was fussing and not going down for a nap, I would start to panic. When would I get a chance to eat something - I've only had one cup of coffee today. When will I get a chance to brush my teeth or put on a little makeup - it's already 2pm. When am I going to get a few hours to work on stuff for my client - it's already 4pm. What I really wanted was to hold my son guilt-free and enjoy cuddling him before he grows another inch, or pump without worrying about him waking up and needing me. There are days that I worry about my milk supply because he's so gassy or fussy that I need to be there for him and pumping is not an option. And if you're a breastfeeding mom (exclusive pumper or not) you know what happens when you don't pump or nurse - engorgement and drying up your milk supply. Anxiety and mom-guilt have been so strong lately.
I try to remind myself that the laundry, the dishes, working, pumping and everything else can wait. Huxley cannot. When I'm holding him and he's upset, I before I freak out, I stop, and remind myself he will never be this little and I will never get to cuddle him like this again - so enjoy this moment.
You look at Instagram and see other moms sharing stories of them going out with their babies everyday, having a jolly good time. Posting photos of their happy cooing babies. I'm guilty of this too - but it's such a lie. Behind every photo of a happy mom with her happy baby living her best blissful life is 100% bullshit lol. We all have our bad days, and when it rains, it pours.
I wrote a post about my emotional breastfeeding experience. After 2-months, I still feel a little upset that I have to pump and bottle feed. My time away from Huxley or my time out of the condo are limited because I can't just whip my boob out and feed him anywhere. I need to be back home to pump. While most of the time I'm not bothered about it, there have been many emotionally draining moments with my pump lol. I feel like a cow, I end up eating cold dinners alone sometimes because I have to pump right away or my boobs will explode, I have to leave early, ask for a private place to pump when I'm visiting someone for an extended period of time or if I'm out I'm anxious about getting home so I can pump. My pump and I have a love-hate relationship. I'm proud that I can breastfeed Huxley in my own way, but at the same time, I feel like it f@cking sucks. But I also think it's totally normal to feel frustrated about it. I think as an exclusive pumper, the biggest concern is supply. And part of this comes from people saying breast is best, and if you're not feeding your baby from the breast, your milk supply will probably dry up sooner than a woman who is feeding directly from the breast. I think this is bullshit. And also - my milk supply is at an obscene rate. I literally have enough stored milk to feed a village of babies. I could probably sell milk on Kijiji or eBay and make a killing lol. Not only have Bryon and I ran out of freezer space, my mother has too. So in reality, I don't actually have a reason to be concerned about my milk drying up.
What helps the most, is sitting down with another mom and venting. Because there's a 99% chance, she also needs to vent. When the stir crazy really started to set in, I decided to forget the anxiety that was holding me back from making the 2-hour drive solo to my parents' and just do it. My family lives in Prince Edward County - and even though I didn't expect my mom to drop her life and help me with Huxley, I just needed to be somewhere where people were around me for a full day. Last week I stayed at my parents' longer than usual and Bryon met me there on the weekend. It was great. A friend of mine has a 4-month baby and has family in the County as well, so it was great to meet with her for lunch and share stories and experiences, vent and just talk about being new moms. I was surprised to learn that she was going through the same thing as I have been and I really enjoyed having a judgement conversation about mom stuff.
Of course when there's a bad day, there's about 4 really good days. Huxley is a dream baby. More often than not - he's incredibly chill. He LOVES his naps, taking baths, smiling and cooing...so many adorable things. His development has been skyrocketing the last few weeks and he's starting to develop his own personality, which I love. Even though he's my son, I feel like I'm getting to know a little person as he figures out who he is. I love being his mom and every day I am in awe that he belongs to Bryon and I. With each challenge motherhood gives, there is a huge reward. My biggest complaint is that time is going to fast and I wish there were more hours in the day despite how tired I am. Being a mom can be so exhausting. You would be shocked at how quickly the days go by. I'll often look at the clock and see that it's 2pm and wonder where the the day went!
After Bryon feeds Huxley and spends his own time with him in the morning before he leaves for work, he usually puts him back in his bassinet so I can keep sleeping. But when I wake up after he leaves, I take him out and co-sleep with him for an hour or two (gasp!!! Not co-sleeping!!!). I try to wake up before him so I can pump alone and get coffee and breakfast before he wakes up for his second morning bottle (trust, it doesn't always go this smooth, but generally this is what happens). My mornings with Huxley are my favourite. He's generally happiest during the time. He usually goes down for a nap around 11/1130 and will sleep until 2 or 3. I try to get as much done as possible during that time and sometimes I'll gently pick him up and put him the stroller and head out (he sleeps in his car seat no problem). Because Bryon is a doctor, he doesn't get home right at 5pm. Sometimes he comes home at 10pm which is particularly frustrating, but it is what it is. Otherwise, when Bryon gets home, I'm lucky that he's literally the most involved dad ever. He takes over as soon as he's home so I can have some time to myself. Not only that - he encourages me to get out on my own and have a break: whether that's going to a gym class or getting my nails done. I think this is so important.
Although there are frustrations that come with being a new mom, there are more amazing things. While I was pregnant everyone warned me, "You're in for a big change. Nothing will be the same...blah blah blah" and really, any pregnant woman knows this and expects this. I had zero expectations of what it would be like transitioning into the role of Huxley's mom, and I'm so glad I felt this way. Despite days feeling exhausted, stressed and emotional - I'm truly living my best life and enjoying every single minute (even the bad days!) of being a mom! I don't think I've ever been challenged in such a special way in my entire life.
All photos in this post are by Jolene Barker Photography